Are you looking for a new spooktacular treat to add to your haunting party? These Halloween nutty kataifi monsters will go perfectly with your mummy dogs, witch fingers pretzels, ghost brownies, spider cookies, Frankenstein Rice Krispies, and other fun and ghoulish treats.
Best of all, the messier you make them, the better they look! Bonus: they quickly turn into sweet haystacks for your Thanksgiving table!
Inspiration indeed strikes at funny times. The inspiration for these nut-filled fuzzy and sort of mummified monsters came to me at Easter.
Who thinks of Halloween at Easter? This girl, so you don't have to!
What is kataifi?
In Greece, kataifi is based on various dishes rolled or layered with it, including dessert pastries with nuts and sweet syrups. In Turkish, kadayif and Arabic kanafe can refer to the string pastry itself, or the entire dessert dish.
The list of spellings for shredded phyllo dough seems to go on: kadaif, kataifi, knafeh, kanafe, kenafeh, kunafeh, konafi, kadayif, künefe, etc.
Kataifi is the Greek name for kanafeh, and back home, we call it kadaif. Sheesh, I bet you'll be dreaming of all these words tonight! 😂
Fun with kataifi dough
I was planning on making these rolls (which are the base recipe for these monsters) because they are my dad's favorite treat. Now I could've also made more nests and used them as cups for baklava ice cream. 🤔
Since I've never made kataifi rolls before (what kind of a daughter am I, right?), I searched for the recipe, and these perfect pretzel broomsticks popped up. How fun are they? 🤩
Let me tell you, they look super cute and easy, but they were not so fun to make. Or maybe it's the operator error. 😩
There's something terrifically fun in tearing apart the dough shreds, though, but I tossed away more pastry than I care to admit, all while swearing violently under my breath. Damn you, Heather, how do you do it?
I managed to make three broomsticks, and as you can see below, they're not nearly as neat as hers.
With Halloween still on my mind, thanks to Heather, I took my KATAIFI rolls out of the oven and instantly thought they resemble little haystacks. They would be perfect for Thanksgiving!
But add some chopped pistachios for teeth and candy eyes, and you get funny-looking Halloween nutty kataifi monsters.
Don't you love it when you get two for one? It also happened with this pumpkin hummus dip I recently made. It's a great appetizer for Thanksgiving that turns into a spooky Halloween treat with just a little tweaking. 🎃 Win-win.
How to make kataifi dough?
You don't make kataifi by actually shredding the fillo, although it is called shredded fillo dough. Not to say you couldn't try slicing fillo very thinly, but I don't think you'd get the same result.
This thin, noodle-like pastry uses the same dough recipe, but it's processed into thin strands for a shaggier texture.
The shredded phyllo, very similar to phyllo sheets, dries out quickly, so it's best to keep exposure to air at a minimum.
Brushing shredded phyllo with melted butter before baking helps prevent sticking and cracking and gives desserts like kataifi their golden color.
Make the syrup:
- Add all the ingredients for the syrup into a small pot and bring to a boil. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved; set aside to cool completely.
Make the kataifi rolls:
- In a food processor, process the walnuts, cinnamon, ground clove, and orange juice; transfer to a bowl.
- Untangle the shredded fillo dough with your fingers, gently spreading the strands apart.
- Take one piece of the kataifi dough, and spread it to about 6x2-inch in size. Drizzle with melted butter and place 1 tablespoon of the filling at one end. Roll it up tightly, folding the sides inwards, to form a small cylinder. Repeat with the rest of the kataifi dough and filling.
- Bake the kataifi at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 40-50 minutes, or until golden and crunchy.
- Remove from the oven and immediately ladle the cold syrup over the rolls. Set aside for 30 minutes to 1 hour, until all of the syrup has been soaked up.
How to store kataifi?
Store thawed shredded phyllo in the refrigerator under a damp towel and wrap tightly in plastic wrap; it will keep for about a week.
Working with kataifi can be tricky unless you're Heather Baird, but no worries! You're making monsters! Their charm is in their imperfections. 🙂 Kids adore these fuzzy but crunchy treats.
Before serving, add chopped pistachios to form the "teeth" and candy eyes to complete your Halloween nutty kataifi monsters. Trick or treat! 👻
What should I try next?
For Halloween-inspired dinner, serve these dishes:
- Halloween Pumpkin Hummus Dip
- Colorful Vegetable Cheese Pie
- Vertical Layer Pumpkin Orange Cake
- Butternut Squash And Apple Soup
- Pumpkin And Goat Cheese Pasta Bake
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Halloween Nutty Kataifi Monsters
- Food processor
- Pastry brush
- baking pan
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- Orange or lemon rind
- 1 pound kataifi dough shredded fillo, thawed
- 2 sticks butter melted
- 6 oz. walnuts pistachios or almonds (or mix), roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- A pinch of ground clove optional
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 32-36 candy eyes
- chopped or sliced pistachios
- a tiny bit of melted white chocolate to "glue" the eyes optional
- Add all the ingredients for the syrup into a small pot and bring to a boil. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside to cool completely.
- Melt the butter and with a cooking brush grease the bottom and sides of a 9x13-inch baking pan.
- Unroll the kataifi dough from the plastic sleeve, untangle the shredded fillo dough with your fingers, gently spreading the strands apart to get fluffy and ensure there are no knots.
- Take one piece of the kataifi dough, and spread it on a working surface or your palm to about 6x2-inch in size. Drizzle with melted butter and place one tablespoon of the filling at one end. Roll it up tightly, folding inwards the sides, to form a small cylinder.
- Place the kataifi roll in the pan and brush with melted butter, using the cooking brush to shape it a little bit. Repeat with the rest of the kataifi dough and filling. Place the kataifi rolls one next to the other, leaving almost no gaps between them and drizzle with remaining butter.
- Bake the kataifi on the middle rack in preheated oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 40-50 minutes, or until golden and crunchy.
- Remove from the oven and immediately ladle the ¾ of the cold syrup over each roll, enabling each ladle to be absorbed. Cover the pan with a towel and set aside for 10 minutes. Ladle the rest of the syrup over the kataifi. Set aside for 30 minutes to 1 hour, until all of the syrup has been soaked up.
- Before serving, add chopped pistachios to form the "teeth" and candy eyes to complete your Halloween nutty kataifi monsters. Trick or treat!
- Cover the dough with a slightly damp towel to keep it fresh and moist, or it will dry out and break up when you try to work with them.
- Serve these monsters on a plate because the syrup will make them moist (similar to baklava). However, you can reduce the amount of syrup if you wish to make them less sticky.
- "Gluing" of the eyes is optional. You can rest them on the top of the rolls - tuck the chopped pistachios between the shreds for teeth.